Last week, I opened up about my mental breakdown from late in my mini-retirement. Recounting the most challenging and painful period in my life left a big question unanswered:

Do you regret it?

You may have been wondering the same as you read about where my head was at over the spring and summer. Was the mini-retirement a mistake?

A Financial Failure

Man with empty pockets

Looking at the mini-retirement from a purely financial perspective, there’s little to be excited about:

  • We spent over $60,000 covering our living and travel expenses
  • We brought in only a few thousand dollars of income to offset those expenses
  • We haven’t established any real passive income from our work over the year
  • We made no additional investment in our retirement accounts
  • My salary after the mini-retirement is roughly 25% less than my salary before

By almost every standard measure, my mini-retirement was a miserable failure. (Tweet this )

But I don’t look at this year as a failure at all. Despite all the heartache and pain, the challenge and struggle, I have no regrets about the leap we took this year. On the contrary - I think this year was one of the most important and successful years of my life.

A Personal Success

Jaime and the girls hiking in a Wisconsin state park

Sure, the finances didn’t turn out great. But, on the flip side, I take stock of these victories:

  • I enjoyed over 5 weeks of travel with Jaime and the girls
  • I participated as a more active parent in our daughters’ classrooms and in their daily lives
  • I gained a newfound appreciation for the love and support of the people around me - friends, family, even people I hadn’t talked with in years
  • I found clarity on what I really wanted in a career and found a job I love in a team that I can grow and learn
  • I built a stronger faith in God than I’ve had in my whole life, now trusting I can lean on Him in any situation

Because of the mini-retirement, I’m becoming a better husband, a better father, a better friend, a better engineer, and most importantly, a better child of God.

By every measure that actually matters, my mini-retirement was an incredible success. (Tweet this )

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

The financial and psychological cost of the mini-retirement was worth every cent and every panic attack because of where we are now.

Success is How You Choose to Define It

Kids soccer team high-fiving at the end of the game

Too often, we view ourselves as failures because we’re using the wrong measures of success.

Success isn’t a big house, a fancy car, or an overflowing 401k account. Success isn’t financial independence, early retirement, or winning the lottery.

Real success is growth - becoming a better version of yourself. Success is learning what’s really important in life so you have the confidence to pursue it. Success is seeing the love you have around you and the opportunities for love you’re not taking advantage of.

That kind of success means more. That kind of success is always within your grasp. That kind of success doesn’t depend on luck, personality or privilege.

Success is how you choose to define it. (Tweet this )

Don’t conform to the way the world measures success - with money, celebrity, and appearance. Choose a better set of measures - growth, learning, and love.

Go. Redefine success. You’ll be surprised to find that you already have it all around you.